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No Hybrid Funds? Up-Green Your MotorHome

Contributor: Amanda Richter
Posted: 10/09/2013

The number of people in the U.S. comprises only about 4.5 percent of the world's total population. However, Americans drive nearly 25 percent of all personal vehicles globally, or 250 million cars, trucks and motorhomes, according to the U.S. Census, and American Energy Independence website.

The amount of petroleum used to fuel the vehicles each year is 16 percent of the total world use, and the burden on the environment is significant, according to EIA.gov. The U.S. responsibility to mitigate the harm is high due to our disproportionate contribution.

Of the 9.7 million total personal vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2012, 440,000, or 4.5 percent, were hybrids, as reported by The Wall Street Journal and CS Monitor. Despite its fuel- and cost-saving 50 mpg rating, not all aspects of driving hybrid cars are positive. The acceleration is slow, and according to Fox Business, driving them feels less powerful compared with a standard vehicle.

The sticker price may be higher than some consumers would like to pay. The average cost for all but a few of the top 10 selling hybrid models is about $25,000, and ranges from $18,500 for the hatchback Honda Insight to $45,900 for the Lexus RX Hybrid, as Fox Business reports.

Rather than purchasing a hybrid, improving the fuel efficiency and reducing the emissions of a standard gas-fueled vehicle is effective, and relatively easy.

GPS

A GPS system helps you find a destination, and save miles on your vehicle. According to Fox Small Business, small businesses that require a transportation team have saved between $29,000 and $40,000 in fuel costs following installing GPS systems. These systems have guided drivers to locations, allowing them to track and report their routes to supervisors, reducing personal side trips.

New "Eco-Route" GPS systems coming down the pike in Ford and Hyundai vehicles are mapping routes that narrow down results using fuel use as the priority, which offers between 6 and 15 percent gas savings, according to CNN Money. It favors slower roads that have 50 MPH speed limits instead of interstate highways and geographic plateaus rather than hills. It may divert you from a traffic jam, even if sitting in gridlock is faster because it uses more gas than taking the long way around.

Sun Reflectors

On a hot day, protecting your car with a sun reflector installed in the windshield will maintain a moderate temperature in the cabin, which reduces the need to use air-conditioning. Slate explains how AC reduces fuel efficiency by 3 to 10 percen in 80 to 90 degree Fahrenheit weather, and can go as high as 20 percent during an intense swelter. Additionally, on a standard sedan, the windows rolled down-versus AC argument tips to the former manual solutions at speeds lower than 68 MPH.

Change Air Filter on Schedule

A standard routine maintenance air filter change every 15,000 miles no longer impacts gas mileage as much as it used to in newer cars, according to Consumer Reports. CSMonitor goes on to explain how computer sensors now tightly regulate the mix of air and gas in a vehicle's engine, even if the air quality is bad. However, over time, an unclean air filter will impair performance and acceleration, issues that can shorten your vehicle's lifespan.

Tire Inflation

A combination of ensuring that tires are inflated to the maximum capacity as stated in the manual and installing low-resistance tires, such as the Nexen NBlue ECo by the Nexen tire company will show great benefits. In fact, it can improve fuel economy by as much as 3.3 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. For every psi, or (pounds-per-square-inch) lower than the optimal pressure in your tires, the fuel efficiency of your vehicle drops by 0.3 percent, according to FuelEconomy.gov.

Bio-Diesel

A diesel vehicle can use biodiesel fuel, a combination of vegetable oils processed with alcohol, that is sold at filling stations in numerous urban areas across the U.S. Biodiesel.org is a resource with a retail locator. An even more eco-friendly option is installing a conversion kit that that costs approximately $1,400 that allows straight vegetable oil from a restaurant or other source to power your diesel engine.

By Amanda Richter

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Contributor: Amanda Richter
Posted: 10/09/2013